During a visit to Cumberland, we kids were all in the kitchen waiting for lunch to be prepared. Nonnie discovered at the last minute that she was out of Caporale bread. Not surprising, since the Lander horde had had a feeding frenzy at breakfast with our favorite bread. Nonnie asked Nonno to run up to the store at the corner and buy some bread, since it would have taken too long to go downtown to buy Caporale’s. Nonno came back with a disgusted look on his face and a loaf of very American wonder bread in his hands. “Look at dis!” he grumbled, as he squeezed the loaf in its plastic bag. “It’s nothing but air!” Nonnie yelled at him to stop crushing the bread, but he insisted on demonstrating what worthless junk it was. That day we all ate sandwiches that were oddly shaped.
There came a time when even Caporale’s bread wasn’t like it used to be, and it seemed the end of an era.
Well, cheer up, Nevys! Here’s an Italian bread recipe that will make you swear you can almost smell the kitchen at 779 Fayette and hear Nonnie whistling like a canary.
Makes 3 loaves
3 cups warm water (110 degrees)
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon salt (slightly rounded)
6-8 cups unbleached flour
1. Add the sugar and yeast to the warm water and let proof.
2. Stir in 4 cups of flour and beat until smooth. Cover and let rest for 15 minutes. (I think this resting phase is one of the secrets of Italian bread)
3. Beat in the salt and then add enough remaining flour to make a stiff dough. Knead until as soft and smooth as a bambino’s behind.
4. Turn in a greased bowl, cover, and let double in size. (Put it in the oven with the light on; perfect rising temperature)
5. Once doubled, punch down and divide into three. Place back in bowl, cover, and let rise.
6. Once doubled again, punch down and form into three fat “footballs.”
7. Grease heavy cookie sheets (for best results, use the good insulated ones) and sprinkle with corn meal. Place the bread on the sheets, cover with a towel, and let rise.
8. Once risen, mist with water (use a spray bottle), and place in a preheated 450 degree oven. Every ten minutes mist the bread again and change position in the oven (to keep it baking evenly).
9. Bread is done when golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom (about 30 minutes).
Recipe provided by Joan Lander